At this year's Gamescom, Blizzard delivered the skinny around the artisan system, and it's a worth-while feature that will definitely compliment the game.
In the video Jay Wilson, the game director for Diablo 3, explains that the artisan NPCs don't just offer their services when you jump into the game, you have to earn their trust and loyalty by playing the role of your hero. That basically means you'll have to crank out a few tasks for them before they choose to help you out.
The artisan lends you their services by crafting in variations of their expertise. The blacksmith is the main focus in the explanation of the artisans, though they do mention the other two artisans - the jeweler and the mystic. Once you earn their loyalty, they will be with you as you travel through each town in Sanctuary.
Once you've earned an artisan's trust, you will notice they set up shop in the towns you visit. The artisan becomes a vendor, offering products based on their trade. In addition to the buying and selling of items, they can craft items as well. The blacksmith can craft weaponry and armor, as well as sockets in any item. The mystic can enchant items for you and identify attributes for magic items. The jeweler can pull gems from sockets without damaging them, combine them into better gems and craft items like amulets.
The artisans can craft items relative to their trade for you with materials you provide, which you get by breaking down various items into usable materials using a Horadric Cube-like device. The quality of the materials is reflective of the level of item you break down. You can break unwanted items down anywhere in the game, so you won't have to run back to town to clear up your inventory.
Blizzard didn't want to make the item results so predictable, so crafting is similar to making a gamble to an extent. The materials will be vague in revealing what attributes they provide when crafting an item by only revealing a range of the potential features.
As the artisans skills are upgraded, their in-town camp will evolve in appearance as well. In the video you see the blacksmith's basic wagon, surrounded by items on blankets and anvils spread around. Once fully upgraded, the blacksmith's camp gets embellished with fancier aesthetics such as ornate decor, fires, chains and stone detail. Each artisan has their own individual levels and of upgrading, but you can maintain and upgrade the three artisans simultaneously.
Check out the full video below for a visual representation to the artisan system, as well as some satisfying gameplay footage at the end.
The more I see regarding Diablo 3, the more eager I am to play the game. The artisan system is pretty amazing in regards to customization and item enhancement. You won't be stuck with that lame sword for so long until you level up. In the interim, you can pop a socket in and throw a gem in there or enchant the item so it's not so dull and useless.
I'd like to point out the amazing detail in the video as well. The characters movement, even when standing in place, is fluid and clean. The environment is alive in its own right..
Even the combat teaser at the end has so much to look at. The detail of the environment is ridiculous - the tattered flags flapping in the wind, the raging river below reflecting a rainbow, and the spell-casting details are just a few of the highlights. This game promises to be a visual delight.
What do you think, Ranters? How do you feel about the new artisan and crafting system? Tells us your expectations, hopes and predictions for Diablo 3 in the comments!